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Best Ways to Recycle, Compost, and Use Dog Waste

Updated on December 18, 2015
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr Mark is a veterinarian in Brazil. He has been working with dogs more than 40 years.

Dog waste should be composted, not put into a septic tank; it heats up enough to destroy pathogens and provides nutrients that can be utilized in your yard. Composting dog waste also keeps tons of material being added to a system already overwhelmed. This article will explain how to correctly make a compost heap out of your dogs waste.

Being "green" should include composting your dog´s waste.
Being "green" should include composting your dog´s waste. | Source

It is unfortunate that since the introduction of Steve Solomon´s great Organic Gardeners Composting back in the 1980s that so many people have followed his suggestions without reasoning them out. Mr. Solomon-unaware of how to correctly compost dog stools to destroy parasites-recommended that dog waste not be added to compost. Since then most articles recommend the same. For fifteen years there have been sites on the internet that claim to be “composting” dog waste are actually proposing the construction of small sewage systems.

You can compost your dog´s poop.

Dog waste (poop) should be composted, not put into a septic tank, because it heats up enough to destroy the pathogens and provides nutrients that can be utilized in your yard. Composting dog waste, and not throwing it in a landfill, also keeps tons of material being added to a system already overwhelmed.

This article is not about to teach you how to build a dog waste septic system. If you want to do that you can go out and buy a barrel and then there are about 100 other sites on the internet that will show you what to do. Sewage systems that require the purchase of large plastic containers and chemical inoculants purchased at the grocery store are neither friendly to the environment nor friendly to your budget.

This article will tell you the benefits of correctly composting your dog´s stool and also tell you how to do it properly. If you have a cat, and you use biodegradable litter, her waste can be added also.

Dog poop should not be thrown in a bin and ignored. The problem is yours.
Dog poop should not be thrown in a bin and ignored. The problem is yours. | Source

Why compost dog waste?

Each year tons of dog stool are thrown into trash cans and end up in sanitary landfills. When dog waste is composted it becomes a nutrient that will improve your yard and trees. When your soil is lacking in organic matter no amount of chemical fertilizer you purchase is going to improve things the way you want. The compost you produce, with the material you already have on hand (dog waste), will improve things the way you want.

If you live in an urban area this is not a viable option. You have nowhere to compost and wouldn’t have anything to do with the compost anyway.


Are there problems with using dog waste?

There are some pathogens that can spread from dogs to humans. Most of the bacteria will die easily, and in The Humanure Handbook (Chapter 7, Worms and Disease) the author says that roundworms can survive for 90 days in a shady area.

The University of Minnesota did some research in this area and determined that in order to destroy harmful worm eggs your compost would need to exceed 165 degrees for five days. The University of Oregon ran tests and determined that a compost pile that reached 130 degrees and was turned five times (at 3 day intervals) would no longer contain pathogens.

A compost bin can be easily built for your dog´s waste.
A compost bin can be easily built for your dog´s waste. | Source

If you live in a suburb and only have a small space your really need to build or buy a compost system. I have added a plan here and there are numerous videos available on YouTube to help you build a compost bin. If you need further instructions on how to utilize this composting system you can purchase an e-book called Humanure Toilet Instruction Manual.

Do something about your dog´s poop.
Do something about your dog´s poop. | Source

How to compost dog waste?

You do not need to buy a storage bin, you certainly do not need to buy a chemical to add to your compost mixture. The process is ridiculously simple.

1.Mark an area where you will be composting.

2.When you pick up a shovel full of dog stool, cover it with a shovel full of carbon material. (Since the carbon: nitrogen ratio of dog stool is about 6:1—similar to chicken manure and much better than cow manure—you add about one scoop of carbon material to cover two scoops of stool.) I have a friend who is a carpenter so I always have access to wood shavings; that is what I use. If you want to use grass clippings that is fine, and since they rot quickly they are even a better choice.

3.Every few days (if you need a rigid schedule do it every Monday and Thursday) toss a shovel full of old compost on to the pile so that there will be beneficial bacteria to speed up the digestion.

4.Keep the pile moist; if you have fish add their water when you are cleaning out their tank.

5.Optional: If you really want to produce high quality compost, add some worms. (This is called vermicomposting.) You will need to add fruit peelings and coffee grounds as an additional feed for the worms but they will also eat the dog stool. They will produce a high quality fertilizer. By the time the worms have consumed your dog stool compost you will have high quality humus that will contain no pathogens. There are many hubs available, including this one, and if you want to go this direction you really should read more. If you run into any that tell you not to use dog waste, they are wrong. They are repeating incorrect information.

An acquaintance of mine has an organic coffee plantation; he maintains all of the plants only on humus produced by his worms. If you have purchased organic coffee at Starbucks or your grocery store then you already use humus. If you use worms you will be able to produce your own.

If you are fecophobic you can add dog waste in biodegradable bags to your compost heap. It is going to take many more years to return to soil if you use this method, and I certainly do not suggest trying to add worms as they will have nothing to feed on.

Banana trees are great places to use your dog compost.
Banana trees are great places to use your dog compost. | Source
Young papaya trees will thank you for the dog waste compost.
Young papaya trees will thank you for the dog waste compost. | Source

How to use dog poop?

I would not eat a teaspoonful of dog waste compost. Neither would I eat a teaspoonful of humanure compost, chicken manure compost, or fresh dirt. If you have maintained a proper composting system the product will have no pathogens, but I still recommend it be used on your lawn, on your ornamental bushes, and around your trees. I have about a dozen coconut and a dozen banana trees that are always searching for additional nutrients. If you have fruit trees, a hedge, or a lawn they will appreciate the compost and pay you back by flourishing.

The compost is ready to be used when it looks like regular soil. I cannot tell you an exact time because it will vary depending on your environmental conditions. If you live in the northern US your compost heap will not even heat up during the winter; here in the tropics (and with a healthy worm population working on my compost), my pile is usually ready to spread in about 3 months. I have compost piles in several areas and tend to leave it longer.

If you do not feel safe using the compost for your food you can fertilize your flowers.
If you do not feel safe using the compost for your food you can fertilize your flowers. | Source

If you want to destroy our environment by selfishly throwing your dog´s stool into our landfills, or (even worse) buy a product that freezes the feces before you pick it up just so that the task will be a little easier, perhaps you are not the type of person who should even be owning a dog.

Think about it.

All dogs produce waste, so get rid of it correctly.
All dogs produce waste, so get rid of it correctly. | Source

© 2012 DrMark1961

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    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      DrMark1961 4 months ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks for reading! Imagine all of those dogs up in Alaska. What a lot of poo.

    • Solaras profile image

      Solaras 4 months ago

      I have a compost heap and plenty of poo - I I'm happy to give this a try. Thanks for the great hub - it makes sense to me!

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks for your great comments. There are not nearly enough people cognizant of just how important this issue is. Most pet owners just think throwing it in the trash makes the problem go away!!!

    • Rule 56 4 years ago

      Finally some sensible advice about composting pet poop. You're spot on. Healthy dogs don't produce diseased waste. Even if they did, the temperature and microbial competition in the compost pile will kill any pathogen-laden poop. Composting the waste is the only responsible way to dispose of it. Glad to see someone else out the advocating it.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks I set up my "featured hubs" a little differently, and am not sure that would work. I am thinking about changing it a little, though, so will keep this in mind.

    • Jesse Mugnier profile image

      Jesse Mugnier 4 years ago from Jersey

      No problem I'm glad I could help! Since posting this comment yesterday, I did a little experiment. I had my most popular hub as my first "featured" hub on my profile page. I took that down last night and put up one of my hubs that was not as popular and had the 'traffic failing' triangle next to it.

      The result: My not as popular hub is no longer losing traffic and had more views. My most popular hub had a 'traffic failing' triangle, with not as many views as usual.... Might be a good idea to feature this hub if you really want more people to see it.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks for the tip. I just added five new tags with "garden" and also added some that have nothing to do with dog waste, like "how to compost". I appreciate you taking the time to help.

    • Jesse Mugnier profile image

      Jesse Mugnier 4 years ago from Jersey

      Hey DrMark, I just read this, and it is really interesting! I know we talked about tags, maybe you should include a tag about gardening somehow, considering you do mention that this is "a nutrient that will improve your yard and trees". Just a thought... :)

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      No, anthrax sporulates. I think you can destroy the spores by warm heat but I would have to research it.

    • DoItForHer 4 years ago

      Interesting. What is the life stage of Anthrax that can survive for years in the soil? I thought that was the prion.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Toxoplasmosis cysts should be destroyed just as easily as toxocara (roundworm) cysts.

      No research has been done on prions, but I suppose that they would be very easy to kill in compost. Much easier than other organisms, in fact.

    • DoItForHer 4 years ago

      How well does that work on prions?

      Depending on where you live and how your sewage system works, flushing cat dooky can transmit toxoplasmosis to other animals. Otters are especially susceptible.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
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      DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Hey wetnosedogs this seems tailor-made for your situation! I can only imagine how many bags of dog food you go through in a month.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Hi Dirt Farmer! There are as many misconceptions about the use of dog poo as there are about the use of humanure. Even if you do not measure the temperature of your compost pile, turning it frequently should provide adequate mixture of any pathogenic organisms. Even if you do not want to turn it, using the dog waste compost as a worm bed will provide you plenty of nearly-sterile humus to use on your garden. EVEN if you don´t trust your worms, you can use the humus/compost on your lawn and hedges. And living in Maryland, your compost pile is going to be inactive during the winter so if I were you I would only harvest and utilize the humus twice a year (late spring and early fall).

      Thanks for the comment Mary. I know my Maltese does not provide enough stool for a large heap but with my Pit Bull the situation is quite different. Leaving it in the yard is not good though because it attracts flies. If you collected it and threw it in a corner, then covered it with a little grass each day, in a few years there would be soil there and it would never smell nor draw flies. I realize it does not seem necessary but it is a better alternative.

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

      Very interesting hub. Something I didn't know at all.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill 4 years ago from United States

      Geez. I don't know! Sometimes compost doesn't heat up enough to kill weed seeds, although it looks okay. Can I be certain my compost is hot enough to kill the pathogens in dog poo without taking the compost's temperature?

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      Wow! I just learned something new today. Thanks for all this great info. My miniature schnauzer poops about the size of a pencil, thank goodness. She has her very own private large yard. I just leave it there. Maybe I'm wrong.

      I voted this UP, etc. and will share.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      I forgot to add, thanks for your visit! I want to get this message out to as many people as possible and was really disappointed at all the bad suggestions I saw on the internet. Thank you again for taking the time to read this.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      That is a much better way to dispose of it than a landfill, but even human waste that is sent to a sewage treatment plant is wasted (another pun!). I don´t know how big your yard is but I do know you utilize organic products; do your purchase chemical fertilizers for your lawn? Your Schnauzer´s waste could be used in place of those fertilizers and at the same time you would be decreasing the burden on your towns sewage treatment system.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      This is interesting, but since my dog uses our back yard for her potty place, I simply "scoop the poop" from the ground and flush it down the toilet in my bathroom. This eliminates (sorry about the pun) the need to toss it in the trash. Works for me.

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